Most everyone has a signature something: a signature scent, a color that looks great on you, a move unique to you when dancing or sprinting down the court for a layup. I have a Signature Cocktail. If it is Summer (or Spring honestly) and you are invited to a party at my home, most likely this cocktail will make an appearance. Graduations, block parties, first communions, soirees on the deck—it‘s been applauded by everyone from grandmas to my hip twenty-something neighbors.
Part of its appeal is that it’s so simple (three ingredients) and easy to make in batches ahead of time for larger gatherings. If you notice a theme in my blog posts, it’s all about making simple recipes that are delicious. The combination of lemon and cucumber is so refreshing and captures the essence of summer in a glass.
Summer in a Glass Cocktail
2 oz lemonade (I use Simply Lemonade, but you could make it from scratch)
1 oz Effen cucumber vodka
Splash of high quality Ginger Ale (I use Fever Tree)
Garnish: slices of peeled English (seedless) cucumbers
In a cocktail shaker, combine lemonade, vodka and ice. Shake until well chilled. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Top with a splash of ginger ale and garnish with a few slices of cucumber.
Do ahead for larger parties:
The proportions for this drink are simply 2:1 lemonade to vodka. Don’t include the ginger ale when mixing ahead. Using a pitcher or clean empty 1.75 liter lemonade container saved just for this purpose, you can make a pitcher’s worth and chill in advance. One of these containers holds approximately 15 4-oz drinks. Pro Tip: Make sure you label your empty container “With Alcohol” so unsuspecting children don’t inadvertently help themselves to spiked lemonade!
Since you may want to avoid glass on the deck, I use the Chinet cut crystal short 9 oz glasses in lieu of martini glass for larger parties.
Pro Tip #2: Even though you chill this in advance, it is still important to incorporate ice into the cocktail to insure it is not too strong and that it is extra cold. While you could serve this over ice to make it even easier, I really prefer it shaken. You can make about three drinks in a standard shaker in seconds, and then top with the splash of ginger ale and slice of cucumber.
A Toast to Virtual Re-inventors
I include this next cocktail compliments of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater, whose Front Bar created this cocktail. They create a new cocktail for each show, and the virtual streamed reading of their adaption of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull was no exception. The first line of the play — “Why are you always in black?” — inspired this blackberry-infused cocktail. It’s perfect for summer.
Blackberry Spritz (aka Peyankov Punch)
2 oz vodka
.5 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
.5 oz simple syrup
2 oz bubbly of your choice (club soda, sparkling wine, seltzer)
In a glass, add lemon juice, simple syrup and blackberries. Lightly crush the blackberries to release their juice.
Add ice and vodka and stir at least twenty times to chill. Your glass should be a bit frosty. Top it off with your bubbly (I used sparkling water made with my Soda Stream). Give it one more stir and enjoy!
Let’s toast the many artists, chefs, entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations who are tirelessly re-inventing themselves in these crazy times of Coronavirus quarantine. They are successfully sharing their gifts and talents in new ways virtually to audiences no longer limited by geography. From virtual cooking classes to concerts in artist’s home to a virtual play, we are all benefiting from their creativity. Cheers!
Cocktails or mocktails are the name of the game this week in The Chopping Block's private Facebook group. Each week we post a challenge for our members, and this is our first drink challenge. Join the group to participate in the party!